TO SAY TYLA Hanks is a rising star would probably be selling her short; she’s a star already.
But at Tuesday night’s W Awards, Hanks was crowned the NAB AFLW Rising Star for 2021, capping off a remarkable season by the 21-year-old.
Hanks’ eligibility for the prize, which recognises the league’s best young talent, was nearly unfair to her peers.
Entering her third season with 14 games under her belt, Hanks appeared ready to take her game to another level, and with a little bit of opportunity, she did just that.
Playing predominantly as a forward in her first two campaigns with Melbourne, Hanks averaged just nine disposals, slowly finding her feet at the level.
But after taking on a leadership role and being thrown into the middle in 2021, she thrived like no other.
She averaged 19 disposals per game, amassing over 22 touches on five occasions, and became one of her side’s most important players to come eleventh in the AFLCA MVP Award.
Earning a place in the All Australian squad, the classy on-baller was universally recognised, not just as a good young player but as one of the superior midfielders in the league.
Despite standing at just 157cm, Hanks knows how to use her body to advantage, and is as fierce as any over the ball.
But it’s her ability to keep her feet, gather cleanly and dispose efficiently under pressure which makes her such an exciting proposition for many years to come.